This Week I Learned…I’m a Fulbright Semi-Finalist!

Image credit: UC Davis Fulbright

On January 25 at 10:48 pm, I received an email I had been waiting for since October. It was a notification to check the Fulbright portal for the first decision on my grant application. I opened the email, but not the portal. I knew if I did, I would have been too sad or too excited to go to sleep.

The next morning, I reluctantly logged into the portal expecting to see the results right away. Instead, I had to open a decision letter which required even more clicking courage.

I was relieved to see the letter said “We are happy to inform you that you have been recommended as a semi-finalist…for the 2023-24 Fulbright U.S. Student Program”.

In this post, I will answer:

What is the Fulbright U.S. Student Program?

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the most prestigious international exchange program in the United States of America. The program started in 1946 in the aftermath of World War II and is sponsored by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The U.S. version of the Fulbright program allows American citizens to apply for a scholarship to live and study in over 140 countries in the world. The main goal of the Fulbright program is to “promote mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through educational and cultural exchange”. Eligibility for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program include:

  • United States of America citizenship
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Language skills if required by the host country
  • No doctorate degree awarded before the start of the grand period

What did I apply for?

I applied for a 10-month Norwegian study/research grant. The grant is for graduate-level students who want to enroll in courses or conduct independent research in Norway. I proposed an interesting but feasible study to be conducted at the University of Oslo with my co-advisor, Rolf Reber.

To maintain the integrity of my proposal, I won’t divulge the experiment I plan to do. But, it does involve collecting and investigating Scandinavian internet memes.

What does it mean to be a Fulbright semi-finalist?

Being a Fulbright semi-finalist means that my application was approved by the National Screening Committee (NSC). The NSC is the first stage of the review process for a Fulbright grant application, conducted by a panel of experts in the U.S.

Once approved, the application is sent to the host country, in my case Norway, for further consideration. The final candidates will be selected by the host country and approved by the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Final thoughts

I hope you learned something new about the Fulbright U.S. student program and its processes. If you are eligible and interested in the program, the 2024-2025 Fulbright application will open in April 2023.

As for me, I should hear back on the final decision about my grant sometime between March and June. Until then, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

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